How about a restaurant tour to taste the world? Let’s begin our delicious voyage with a port of call in four restaurants.
Agrikol: a delectable Caribbean breeze
Insider website ranked Agrikol among the 21 most beautiful restaurants in the world. It’s not only beautiful but also really good. Just some of the menu’s highlights arethe hot sweet-potato caketopped doused with a rum reduction, acras (deep fried cod bits) and griot. Haitian chef Paul Toussaint, formerly of Toqué, is the mastermind behind all these creations.
Opened nearly four years ago on Amherst Street, Agrikol is owned by Régine Chassagne and Win Butler, two co-founders of Canada’s renowned rock band Arcade Fire.
Helena: another miracle of Fátima
Helena Loureiro was born in the suburbs of the world-renowned Portuguese town of Fátima. At age 11, she began cooking with her grandmother and aunt, but her strong desire to travel led her to Montreal, where she entered the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec. She opened her first restaurant, Portus Calle, which later became Portus 360 (Robert-Bourassa Boulevard) in 2003, and a second, Helena (McGill Street), in 2012, which serves up high-end Portuguese dishes.
Chef Loureiro’s cuisine is inspired by her travels and her family’s culinary traditions. Helena is famed for its octopus—the most popular dish—cod, grilled sardines, Portuguese national dishes, tapas, sautéed beef and Portuguese chicken, among many other mouthwatering offerings.
Graziella, a nod to the famiglia
Graziella Battista will never forget those happy moments as a child, when she would help her mother stir soup or roll gnocchi for family gatherings while 15 or more guests sat around the family table. She recreates this same atmosphere at her restaurant, Graziella, on McGill Street.
The Italian dishes served here embody the authentic flavours and aromas of the Battista family cuisine. Must-tries include the osso buco, risotto, cheese-stuffed cappelletti,lamb agnolotti with lemon flavoured ewe’s ricotta, braised beef cheeks and fish. A meal at Graziella makes you feel like you’re a part of the famiglia.
Damas: a tribute to Syrian culture
The fragrance of the spices and colours of the dishes offer a feast for the senses. From the first bite, you’re transported on a culinary journey to Syria with its refined and rich cuisine. Which is precisely what chef and owner Fuad Alnirabie was counting on when he opened Damas.
Without a doubt, this is one of, if not THE best place to savour Syrian specialities: homemade deli meats, grilled meats (chicken, beef, lamb), whole sea bass, traditional hummus and lamb-stuffed dumplings with yogurt sauce, coriander and peppered butter are just a few selections from this restaurant’s vast menu. Van Horne Street at the corner of Bloomfield.
Tapeo: The flavours of Spain à la Marie-Fleur!
A little over 15 years ago, two long-time friends, Sébastien Muniz and Victor Afonso, opened their tapas restaurant, the critically acclaimed Le Tapeo, at 511 Villeray Street. With chef Marie-Fleur St-Pierre at the helm, the restaurant offers an incredible variety of tapas, unlike many of the run-of-the-mill offerings you can find elsewhere.
The atmosphere is most appealing here because, among other things, the kitchen has a large window that lets you see the artists preparing the various small dishes of liver mousse, salmon or beef tartar, lamb, shrimp, duck, octopus, cod or chicken. These delicious bites are beautifully enhanced by a fine selection of Spanish wines.
And for tapas, the portion sizes are unexpectedly generous!